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Newly Donated Items to the Archives

We are especially pleased to announce our recent acquisitions to the Woody Guthrie Center Archives. Since our inception, we have been continually growing our research materials and adding historically-relevant contextual information to strengthen our base. We find so much value in learning more about how Woody’s contributions to the realms of social justice, music, and advocacy, have impacted the world.

One gem of special interest to researchers from our recent acquisitions are the materials from his time in Los Angeles. These materials, donated by Patricia Dempsey, include a fan letter cited in several publications as the single most prominent piece of evidence that woke Woody up to his personal bias. This letter was from an anonymous fan, and describes a personal offense from a racist song and banter that was pushed out over the airwaves on the “Woody and Lefty Lou Show.” Woody was so affected by his blindness in this matter that he read the letter on the air and made a public apology, tearing up the music.  It is not often that a person becomes aware of the hidden aspect of themselves, and though we see, up until this point, a steady growth in Woody’s social accountability, this demonstrates Woody’s strength of character more than anything else, because he would be forever changed. We know of course that he didn’t stop here; he went on to promote equality of all people, very actively, and he never stopped trying. Perhaps that’s the mantra we must all live towards. As Woody says, “take it easy, but take it.” Take the good with the bad, but keep going.

For more details about our recent acquisitions please see this article by Jerry Wofford from the Tulsa World here: